counting my blessings

I’ve been very unhappy lately and it’s been over a month—five weeks and two days exactly—since I’ve been able to experience true joy. Probably longer than that if I’m being honest. If you follow my blog, you’re aware that my boss of almost twenty years, who was also one of my dearest friends in the entire world, lost his battle with cancer last month. People keep asking if I’m “okay” and depending on your definition of “okay,” the answer is “yes.” I’m functioning. I get out of bed every day, work out, go to work, indulge in some social interaction, read, write, etc., but despite the outer appearance of hanging in there, I’m merely going through the motions. My friend’s death weighs on my mind almost constantly and I miss his presence in my life more than I can convey in writing. Throughout our years of friendship, whenever I would express unhappiness or dissatisfaction with my life to my friend, he would acknowledge my feelings, but urge me not to lose sight of the wonderful things I had in my life despite not having other things I desired. With his advice in mind, I have decided to dedicate my blog post to listing the wonderful things I have in my life even in the midst of my sadness and the gaping hole his death has left in my heart. I hope by putting these blessings down on paper, I will be in a better position to appreciate my life as I currently know it.

Friends – Alan was extremely special to me (still is), but he is not my only close, loyal friend. My friends have always been there, but they have really stepped up in my time of need. They check up on me without being overbearing. They are patient with my mood swings. They attempt to distract me while acknowledging how difficult it will be. My friends who have also experienced true and devastating loss have shared their stories and reassured me that my feelings are normal. My friends who live farther away have invited me to come visit them and have offered to come to me. With their words and actions, they have made it clear I have friends in this world. I’m positive Alan knows he can never be replaced, but I’m sure it gives him peace knowing I have so many other wonderful friends looking out for me. I thank my friends from the bottom of my heart.

Family – My closest family members know how much I valued my relationship with Alan and they’ve been completely supportive during this difficult time. I fear that I will grieve too long and eventually frustrate my family, but my mother has assured me she’s there for me every step of the way. My brother in New Mexico checks up on me regularly and I know it pains him to think of me so sad. He told me so. My sister Marjorie picks up the phone each and every time I call unless she’s at school and if she can’t get talk, she sends me a text to let me know when she’ll be around. She’s been a rock to me this past year. From the day I called her crying when Alan received his diagnosis to the day his wife told us his organs were failing and he might not make it, my sister listened on the other end of the phone while I cried hysterically. She apologized for being powerless to make the situation better, but just being there for me was a comfort. I get to see her three weekends in a row which hasn’t happened since we lived under the same roof over twenty years ago. I am grateful for something to look forward to.

Writing – Writing has been my most powerful distraction from pain. When I get lost in my writing, I’m able to put my own problems to the side at least temporarily. Most of the fleeting moments of happiness I’ve had over the past month have been due to the act of writing, the success of my existing novels, and the anticipation of publishing my fourth book later this year. I’m busy with my book manager and cover artist working on the cover, my editor has completed her first round of edits, and I’m genuinely excited about and grateful for this aspect of my life.

Good books –Besides writing, another true distraction for me is reading. I read on average a book and a half a week. I have no idea how I manage to do that. Okay, I lied. I read whenever I have a few minutes of free time, including while blow drying my hair, riding the subway, and eating my lunch. Sometimes I get so engrossed in a book, when I pull my head out of my Kindle, it takes a moment to remember my sadness. I’ve read the following amazing books in the past few weeks: Is This All There Is? by Patricia Mann, Spin by Catherine McKenzie, Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries and Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison and they were all five star reads.

Job – Many people use going to work as a distraction from dealing with their personal problems.  Unfortunately, my friend’s death threw my world off-kilter both personally and professionally. My grief follows me to work each and every day since Alan was my boss for eighteen years and at three different law firms. Aside from the last year when he was sick, we saw each other five days a week (not including vacations) and ate lunch together almost daily. Walking into work each morning knowing he’s never coming back is so hard and I often have difficulty catching my breath. I have broken down at my desk on multiple occasions. It took me a week to be able to walk past his office. This doesn’t sound like much of a blessing, but bear with me. As challenging as it is to proceed as if it is business as usual when it’s far from it, I’m blessed to work with some great people who understand my pain and are dealing with their own feelings of loss. For the most part, people at work have expressed their sympathy but have also given me room to breathe. My clients have been kind as well and often check up on me. I’ve taken to eating lunch in Alan’s office which now provides me with some comfort and makes me feel closer to him. And of course, there is the obvious: I make a good living, I have comprehensive health insurance and a 401K plan. People tend to take these things for granted, but I’m thankful for a steady paycheck.

Television – I’m a huge fan of the small screen and I am blessed that despite the limited first-run shows currently on the air, I can curl on my couch and binge-watch my new favorite show, The Good Wife, on Amazon Prime. I also can watch back-to-back sappy original movies on The Hallmark Channel. Finally, I’ve recently rediscovered The Long Island Medium on TLC. I’ve always believed that our spirits live on even after death, but now more than ever. Watching The Long Island Medium reinforces my belief that Alan’s energy is still out there and that he can hear me when I talk to him. I know not everyone shares my thoughts on the afterlife and everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but I’ve heard too many stories from credible individuals as well as had my own experiences and I will not be swayed. If it brings me peace of mind and doesn’t hurt anyone, why not?

Spin class – I’ve been running since I was in grammar school and until recently it was one of my favorite activities and certainly my exercise of choice. Since Alan passed away, running has becoming painful because it brings all of my thoughts and feelings to the surface and I wind up breaking down in tears. Spinning, on the other hand, takes so much concentration that I can’t follow the class and focus on my despair at the same time. Since I don’t want to be the only one in the saddle when everyone else is in third position, I choose paying attention to the instructor. As a result, I get a great workout without crying. Here’s to that!

Text messages – I am unbelievably grateful to have saved all of the text messages Alan and I exchanged. Although I only allow myself to read them every couple of weeks, each time I go through a month of texts, it’s like traveling back in time. I can laugh at his jokes, read his advice, and marvel at the amazingly sharp, witty, and easy banter we shared. It’s truly priceless. Unfortunately, I only have messages since October, 2013, after he was already diagnosed with cancer, but his sense of humor was always present.

Memories – Above all else, I am grateful for my memories of Alan and for eighteen years of having the best, most loyal boss in the entire world. I used to say that no job was one hundred percent stable but mine was as close as you could possibly get because Alan always had my back. More valuable to me than that, however, is the friendship we built together over the course of close to two decades. It was a marathon, not a sprint, but when we reached the finish line, neither of us had any doubts of where we stood in the other’s heart. I carry no guilt about the things I said/did not say to Alan and there is nothing Alan could have told me before he died that he didn’t already tell me with words and show me with actions at least a hundred times. For that, I am truly blessed.

And there you have it. Tonight before I go to bed and more than likely shed a few tears over missing my dear friend, I will also count my blessings of which there are many.

Thanksgiving grateful list

Most years, during Thanksgiving dinner, the members of my family go around the dinner table and express what we are grateful for that year.  It’s kind of corny, for sure, but it’s also nice to be reminded of our blessings when so often, we are more concerned with the bad things in our life and what we don’t have.

In the past, I have also written a blog post outlining the things I am grateful for. See my earlier blog posts here:

https://meredithschorr.com/2010/11/

https://meredithschorr.com/2011/11/22/thanksgiving-grateful-list/

Although it looks like I skipped 2012 for some reason, I have written a new list for 2013. Some of the items are the same as in years past because I will always be grateful for my family, friends, etc.

Without further ado, here are some of the things for which I am most grateful this Thanksgiving. This list is not at all exhaustive.

Computer savvy friends who help me set up my new electronics!

Close connections in law to help review and draft contracts.

My family for unconditional love and support.

Advancements in finding cures for cancers like Leukemia, the scientists/medical professionals who devote their lives to these cures, and the people who donate money towards them.

My strong legs and love of running to help clear my head and keep me in shape.

Writing—for so many reasons—because it is an escape from “real life” issues, because it allows me to create and live vicariously through fictional worlds, because some people say I’m pretty good at it and compliments make me smile, because the more books I write, the more money I am making and the closer I am getting to my goal of writing full time!

My friends – to have fun with, to make me laugh, to cheer me up when I’m sad, to laugh at me when I do or say something stupid, to laugh at when they do or say something stupid, to buy my books, to turn to for advice and to feel needed when asked for advice and guidance in return and to remind me that I’m not alone.

My writer/blogger friends – It is so nice to have friends who completely understand the way I feel about books— writing them and reading them.  I am happy to know other people who spend half of their day checking sales rankings and stalking their own reviews!

Men – Even I need to stop talking about books every so often and when I do, I’m thinking about men. The cute ones, the smart ones, the famous ones I will never meet, the clingy ones, the ones who have made me feel wonderful, the ones who made me cry, the douchy ones, the ones who got away, the ones I haven’t met yet.  MEN. Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em!

Good health – I am truly thankful for another year of being in good health and for the continued good health of my family members. I think good health is  something we often take for granted when we’re caught up worrying about finances, relationship issues, bad reviews etc, but I have learned this year that things can change pretty quickly and one thing that should always be cherished is good health. (Side note: I am currently losing a battle against a stubborn head cold and I really, really want to feel healthy right now so I can eat a huge Thanksgiving dinner later 😦 )

Finally, I am grateful for being a true optimist and always managing to be hopeful, to find good in the bad and to learn from my mistakes. Although I do engage in pity parties from time to time, I have so far always managed to shake off the negativity and keep on keeping on. I hope to always be able to find the light in my darker days.